Just walk away…

Every weekend, at least one person on a Security Staff gets yelled at. Sometimes by management, more than likely by a Patron. And every weekend, at least one Security Staffer will react in the wrong manner. The saying, “If you can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen” is an apt one for the field of Security, especially if one is working in a Nightclub or Bar. There will be numerous occasions during which you will be mistreated or taken for granted. And guess what? You have to take it.

I can already hear the detractors:

“No one talks to me that way!”

“Did you hear what he/she said?”

“I refuse to be disrespected.”

Well, believe it or not I am on your side. I don’t think anyone should be disrespected, talked down to, or insulted. But there are ways of dealing with individuals who behave badly that DO NOT involved getting physical – which is unfortunately how most Security Staffers react.

For example, if someone were to say something less than flattering about your mother/sister/grandmother/brother there are two things to consider…and no they are not how hard to hit the person and where will they fall after you’ve hit them.

1) Is what the person saying true? If it is true, then the announcement being made is probably common knowledge. And while possibly embarrassing, everyone already knows so it’s no big deal.

2) Is what the person saying a lie? If it is, then what do you care?

Now I am being a bit sarcastic and callous. But honestly, if 3rd grade insults still offend you, you need to seek employment in another field. Keep in mind that the person insulting you is upset (for any number of reasons), probably intoxicated (which in my book often leads to approximately 3rd grade behavior), and definitely not cognizant of the fact that yelling insults at a 250 lb. person who’s job it is to keep the peace is probably not the best of ideas.

So, what is one to do? How do you calm down or eject someone who is hurling insults?

First off, don’t take it personally. Just don’t. Again, if you can’t handle insults, this is not the line of work for you.

Second, try a little empathy. Put yourself in that person’s shoes: their boyfriend/girlfriend just left them, they were just fired, and the bartender refuses to serve the any more alcohol. That is an equation that when added up equals not too good behavior. Sometimes a smile and a nod (even if you don’t agree with their argument) can go a long way to soothing someone. EVEN if they have said something completely out of bounds.

“Yessir, I appreciate that you think my mother is a lady of loose morals, but I’m still going to have to ask you to leave.”

The key with empathy is that you want the person to think you are on their side. They can call you all the names they want as long as you nod and lead them out the Front Door.

Third, if they are truly upset, you have to try and disrupt their train of thought.

“Hey!”

“Sir/Ma’am/Miss!”

“Excuse me!”

Say it loud and get their attention. Then…

“Can you slow down a little? I want to try and help out, but you’re speaking too fast for me.”

Now the Patron thinks you’re listening – whether or not you really are – and may even slow down and try to explain themselves. Again, nod, smile, and (possibly) continue leading them to the door. (Granted, if this is a possibly violent situation a different set of rules apply)

Now, you’ve managed to slow someone down, listened to their complaint, and possibly managed to get them to the exit without them even noticing. You know what you do now?

Walk away.

No, really. Hand them off to the Front Door staff and walk away. You have now managed to remove the object of the Patron’s anger – you – from the equation. And you probably haven’t laid a hand on them. I have seen people literally stand slack-jawed as they realize that the person they wanted so badly to vent their anger at is gone. Conversely, I have seen people become incredibly upset. But guess what? They are now outside of the establishment and bad behavior outside is more likely to be noticed by Law Enforcement and dealt with far more harshly.

There is one caveat: Let the Front Door staff know WHY you removed the person. At least they then have the opportunity to soothe nerves in their own way, in their own time. And finally, don’t try to get the last word in. A simple smile and a, “Have a good night.” will make you feel like a champ as you WALK AWAY.

Until next time…

Conducting Nightclub Security Interviews, Part 2

Last week we started to discuss the basics of interviewing Security Staffers. This week we’ll get into a little bit more detail.

GUIDING THE INTERVIEW

Right off the bat, you want to be the one directing the interview, not the Interviewee. So make sure that you have your questions ready to go. And when formulating your questions, consider not only the information that the Interviewee will give you – like the basics of who they are and where they’ve worked – but where the questioning may lead.

Oftentimes, an answer to an interview question will give you an idea as to something else you’d like to ask that you hadn’t considered. Conversely, you can ask a question that forces your interviewee to disclose more than they expected. Asking your Interviewee an unusual question can help give you insight to their personality or personality quirks. One of my favorite questions is seemingly pretty straightforward:

“Tell me about the worst job you’ve ever had?”

First off, most people have at least one complaint about somewhere they have worked. There is always something that bothers you about your job. Always. Second, by asking this question – which most people will readily answer – it relaxes your Interviewee. “Wow, he’s asking about that really crappy job, now I can vent.” It’s a little tricky, but getting an Interviewee to relax will allow you to see the parts of their personality that they usually wouldn’t reveal. Especially during an interview! Third, when people vent about things they don’t like, it will give you an idea of whether they will be a good fit for your establishment. Interviewees have actually told me that they couldn’t stand their last boss because he expected them to always be one time. No, really, that happened.

SO, HERE’S THE PROBLEM

Remember our recent post about Scenarios? Now would be a great time to ask your Interviewee some of those scenarios questions. Think up any number of things that could go wrong during a shift and ask them how they would handle it. Again, the answers can be incredibly revealing. And better to ask now than find out the hard way when something goes wrong.

I generally ask between 3-4 scenarios questions dealing with:

  • Intoxicated Patrons
  • Intoxicated Co-workers
  • Altercations and Ejections
  • Incidents in general

Asking questions relating to behavior is another great interview tool. Have they made any mistakes on the job? How did your Interviewee react to making the mistake? Have they had conflicts with management and how where they resolved? Scenarios and behavioral questions go a long way to seeing if your Interviewee will be the right fit for your establishment.

NON-VERBAL? 

Besides taking notes on your Interviewees answers, you should also be watching their body language? Do they appear nervous? Flustered? Poised? How did they act towards your receptionist/host/hostess when they arrived for the interview? How did they act after the interview? Pay attention to their non-verbal cues, things like shifting in their seat, avoiding eye contact, or excessive perspiration. If they are nervous to begin with, do they calm down as time goes on? Are they watching you or the clock?

THAT’S A WRAP. AND FOLLOW-UP.

Remember, you are the one dictating when the interview begins and ends. Make sure to let the know that their time is up and that the interview is over. Thank them for coming in and ALWAYS ask if they have any questions for you. The good candidates usually do.

After the interview, review your notes, make reference calls and background checks, and ask your co-interviewers (if you had any) their opinions. And make sure to take note of your Interviewees’ responses to the interview opportunity itself. Have they written you a “thank-you email”? Have they called to expand on earlier answers? Do they have further questions? Make sure that you note these things.

Once you have reviewed things on your end, I would suggest a second interview. You can make this less formal, add additional interviewers, or even do it over the phone. Involve those people who you think are important to the hiring process (ahem, Head of Security) and have a new set of questions to ask. Chances are this second interview will only confirm your decision to hire, but it is always better to be safe than sorry. Never feel obligated to hire someone because they’ve made it this far into the process.

Take your time. Even if you need to hire someone ASAP, you still have time to think about your decision. Better to take time on the front end than have to deal with the flak later. Remember, this individual will (hopefully) be with you for a while, make their hire a carefully thought-out choice. Good luck and happy hunting!

Until next time…

Conducting Nightclub Security Interviews, Part 1

Inevitably, a time will come when you need to conduct interviews for Security Staffers. Maybe you are a new establishment, maybe you just fired some workers, or maybe you just need more bodies. Regardless of the reason you need new Staff, you should always take the same measured, careful approach to hiring. Unless, of course, you enjoy lawsuits, irresponsible workers, and an overall useless Staff. Hey, you might like those types of aggravation….but I hope not. Today will discuss some interview basics.

SETTING UP INTERVIEWS 

Many people like to schedule interviews with open-ended hours, i.e. “Interviewing between 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.” I have found that this approach may work with a large group of Interviewees, but more often than not it leads to “bunching” with many people showing up at the front and back end of the time slots or a large group of people sitting around waiting to be interviewed. I prefer an approach whereby a set time is given to prospective employees, “We have a few slots available between 9 and 12. What works for you?” This not only places the initiative in the Interviewees’ hands, but allows you to set a fixed time for interview length, say 15 minutes.

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

Where will you be conducting your interviews? Office? Dance Floor? Park Bench? Will the Interviewees be seated in close proximity to those being interviewed and be able to hear the questions? Or will they be in a separate room? No matter where you conduct the interviews, make sure you have comfortable seating, good ventilation, and a little water – for both you and the Interviewee.

THE AGENDA

You’ve got your interviews set-up, now what? First and foremost, YOU need to be organized. Do you:

  • Have an individual folder for each Interviewee?
  • Have a printed schedule of interview times?
  • Have a notepad and pens or pencils?
  • Have a business card ready to hand out?
  • Have a copy of each Interviewees’ resume/application (with notes?)

Your agenda should also include the order in which you want to run the interview: introduction, position details, company information, interview questions, closing, etc. The Agenda is one of the most important parts of your interview because it shows the Interviewee that you are organized, prepared, and ready to go.

So, now your interviews are scheduled, your location is finalized, and your agenda is looking sharp. Let’s go out there and do some interviewing!

JUST THE FACTS, MA’AM. OR SIR.

Just like Detective Joe Friday, you want good, solid information with which to work. Your first set of interview questions should relate directly to the information the Interviewee has given you on their application/resume. This will not only confirm that the information is true (What!? You mean people lie on applications and resumes!?), but can help fill in any gaps on the written page. Some possible questions:

  • How long did you work for Billy’s Bar
  • Tell me about your job duties at Billy’s Bar
  • What were working the conditions at Billy’s Bar
  • Why do you want to work for us

Questions like these will give you a foundation from which to build the rest of your interview and help you to guide the interview in the direction you wish it to go.

So, what direction is that? Well, you’ll have to tune in next week for Part 2. Sorry, I couldn’t resist the cliff-hanger!

Until next time…


What’s The Scenario?

A local Head of Security and I were discussing a variety of topics the other day and the subject of training came up. And while many security teams in other fields – Executive Protection being one – practice scenarios on a regular basis (or at least they should), I have rarely seen a Nightclub Security Staff working any type of training drills. Some of my readers might argue that scenario training is unnecessary in a nightclub environment. “You see the same situations all the time, why train them?”

Easy answer: Proper Prior Planning Prevents P*ss Poor Performance

Any field of work that requires an immediate or urgent response should do some type of scenario training. Scenarios will show where there are gaps in response time, failures of action, failures of inaction, overreaction, and any other issues. Many people, when placed under some type of pressure, will freeze up. The pressure could be something as basic as your boss asking you an unexpected question or as terrifying as having to respond to a choking child. In an fluid environment, filled with intoxicated individuals, having the correct response can mean the difference between life, death, a lawsuit…or vomit on your shoes. Training can help to minimize dangers and shorten the response times to a variety of incidents.

A basic game of question and answer is a great start when building Scenario Training. Think up 3-5 scenarios that your crew might run into on a given night. During the night or at the pre/post shift meeting, throw out a scenario and ask what your Staff would do. You can ask them individually or have them brainstorm as a group. Then, break down and evaluate the answers. Point out conflicts with policy or procedure and ask for other options or solutions to the scenario. And always remember to give them what your response would be. You might be surprised to find that your crew has come up with responses you had not considered.

Another possibility would be to actually put your crew through some physical Scenarios. Place them in their respective positions, grab some extra Bar Staff, and act out the Scenarios you have imagined. The mere fact that your crew is being tested will usually bring up their heart rates and adrenaline level – even if they know it is only a Scenario. Run the Scenario multiple times with different people in each position. Observe their reactions, take notes, and review what just happened. Discuss aspects of Situational Awareness that they could use to their advantage.

Scenario evaluation should be an opportunity for you to positively reinforce your crew’s actions. If you find yourself constantly berating your Staffers, it might be a case of your original training not being up to par. Evaluate yourself and your skill set as well. Put yourself in the mix once in a while. Don’t ever think that because you are the one presenting the problems, your skill set is miles above that of your trainees. Again, you might be surprised what you discover about yourself..

The one type of training that I would avoid with Security Staffers is physical ejections. While it is necessary to discuss how to physically remove someone from an establishment, showing things like wrist locks, arm bars, and chokes WILL open you up to liability. The Use of Force continuum is one that should be discussed and re-enforced regularly, but there are plenty of ways to move a person besides being hands-on. Aside from the risk of liability, the mindset of some Security Staffers will prevent them from working an ejection Scenario safely. They will be more likely to act out against their other Staffers, “Oh yeah, well you’ll never take me down! Try it!”, and this can lead to sparring and other ridiculous behavior. These are training sessions, not tough guy sessions, and anyone that can’t work in an environment of learning is probably not someone you want working for you to begin with. Scenarios are used to train your brain, not your brawn.

Until next time…